The importance of corporate staff to rail
The term 'corporate support' in the rail industry refers to a diverse range of occupations that ensure that our train systems are run safely, efficiently and meet customer and compliance standards.
There has never been a better time to work in the rail industry. Demand for rail services is growing and the industry provides many opportunities for employees to develop their skills and enhance their career. The industry is in growth with massive investment to rebuild and modernise the industry. This includes the next generation of suburban passenger trains, light rail and new freight corridors, stations and many other projects.
The corporate support area of the rail industry provides opportunities for those who are new to the workforce, as well as for graduates and more experienced professionals. Specialisations include: accounting and finance, administration, human resources, law, marketing, and workplace health and safety.
Administration roles are a popular way to start your career because they provide opportunities to cross-skill or up-skill into new rail careers. There are also many opportunities fro graduates and professionals who want to move into senior roles in rail organisations.
- Central Queensland University
- Australasian Railway Association
- ARA members
- Australian JobSearch
- Careers New Zealand
The main corporate support areas in the rail industry
Safety and environment
The rail industry is extremely safety conscious, both from the perspective of its employees and contractors, and the public, as well. It also has a strong commitment to ensuring its operations are done in a way that minimises its impact on the environment. As a result, there are specific careers that focus on safety and environment including roles in engineering, project management, compliance and investigations, and workplace health and safety. Whilst many of these roles require a university degree, there may be opportunities to work in administration or training that support these functions.
Commercial and business
The rail industry is made up of public and private rail organisations – all of which need to be run as commercial entities. As such, there are a wide number of roles that ensure that organisations are run competently and efficiently. These roles are from areas such as: finance and accounting, auditing, accounts, payroll, legal, contracts, procurement and business analysis. Some of the roles require university degrees including law, accounting and finance. However, there are also roles which may require a vocational qualification and experience, including jobs in contracts management, procurement, payroll or accounts.
Administration and clerical
Administration and clerical support underpin many of the activities and functions across rail organisations. Many people start their careers by coming into the industry in an administrative or clerical role, such as an administration clerk, personal assistant, or customer service assistant. Then, with experience and training, they upskill into new careers, such as an executive assistant, rostering officer, project support officer or marketing assistant. Whilst entry level jobs may not require a university education, many employers would now expect to see that you have completed high school and are prepared to undertake further studies.
Sales, communications and marketing
Because rail organisations operate in the commercial world – for both passenger travel and freight haulage, there are many roles designed to support the business and identify new business opportunities to grow the business. To support the commercial side of rail, there are roles in sales, public relations and marketing. Whilst roles in sales may not require specific qualifications and are based on skills and experience, roles in communications, marketing, research and public relations would normally require a university degree. There are also roles that have strong administrative and IT skills.
People, culture and organisational development
The rail industry is vibrant and constantly seeking to attract, recruit, engage, manage, train and retain staff. To do this requires professionals in human resources, workforce planning, learning and development, training and assessment, and workplace relations to ensure the industry has the right people, with the right skills at the right time. Many roles require a university education in specific areas such as human resources. However, there are also roles (that are important to servicing these vital functions) where vocational qualifications and experience are required, for example, project officers and training administrators.